Thursday, 30 July 2009

Philippine consumer confidence up — Nielsen poll

MICHAEL PAOLO T. JAMIAS
BusinessWorld
http://www.bworldonline.com/BW073009/content.php?id=002

CONSUMER confidence improved in the second quarter as government stimulus plans and stock market gains may have lent Filipinos more optimism, a Nielsen survey released on Monday showed.

The confidence index for the Philippines improved seven notches to 103 from 96 in March, according to data from the Nielsen Global Consumer Confidence survey.

The online poll, conducted from June 15-29, asked 14,029 consumers about their confidence levels and economic outlook. It was a quarterly update complementing semiannual Nielsen reports that are released in April and October.

With its score of 103, the Philippines ranked third overall among 28 surveyed markets and was second in Southeast Asia, behind Indonesia which garnered the top overall spot with 113, a nine-point rise from the previous quarter.

"Consumers in emerging and Asian markets are clearly of the view that they are driving in the recovery lane now," Jonathan Banks, The Nielsen Co.’s business insights director, said in a statement issued on Tuesday.

He said the confidence rebound in the region could be attributed to pump-priming efforts and bourse rallies.

"Asian consumer confidence appears to have been boosted through successful government economic stimulus packages that were speedily and effectively implemented at the onset of the global recession," Mr. Banks said.

"Stock market gains in the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) and Asian markets have also had a major impact..."

But in a phone interview, University of Asia and the Pacific (UA&P) economist Peter Lee U expressed apprehension on linking consumer confidence growth to the state stimulus package, as implementation had room for improvement.

He regarded recent gains in the stock market as a more probable driver but only insofar as the respondent sample was concerned.

"Even if they [the online respondents] are not invested in the stock market, they have enough appreciation [of the positive implications] when it is rising," Mr. Lee U said, pointing to the greater access of wired Filipinos to economic news.

"When it goes up, people tend to be happier and spend more."

The average Filipino, he said, is not as exposed to the stock market so the results of the survey may not be representative of the general population.

For his part, National Economic and Development Authority Director Dennis M. Arroyo said "Asians in general have heard of the ’green shoots’ phenomena," which could have spurred consumer confidence.

"In our case, it is the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who are seeing it. The news they get points to a recovery in fourth quarter," Mr. Arroyo said in a phone interview yesterday.

He also agreed with the observation that the stock market uptick could be boosting confidence, saying the trend will likely continue into the year "barring any grave geopolitical events."

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